With so many ways to save money in Nottingham, you can explore the very best of the city without depleting your savings. From its famous hilltop castle to its network of inner-city caves that date back to the Dark Ages, many of Nottingham’s unique attractions are either free or more than affordable. It’s also brimming with markets, architectural gems and museums that don’t cost a penny to explore.

    Relax in Nottingham’s sprawling green spaces, learn about the city’s history and culture at its museums, tour historic religious monuments that dominate the skyline, and dine like a local to make your holiday budget stretch as far as possible.


    Attenborough Nature Centre

    Explore the city’s free green spaces

    • Budget
    • History

    Despite being one of England’s major cities, around 25% of Nottingham is covered by public parklands and green spaces, making it one of the UK’s greenest cities. Wollaton Hall, an Elizabethan country house, is surrounded by 511 acres of parkland and forest. Other popular parks include the Forest Recreation Ground, The Arboretum (Nottingham’s oldest park), and the Attenborough Nature Centre.

    Opened in 1966 by Sir David Attenborough himself, the Attenborough Nature Centre covers about 145 hectares of wetland, grassland, scrub and lakes. There’s plenty of wildlife to be seen at the reserve, including over 250 species of birds. The nearest train station is called Attenborough, located about 15 minutes from the reserve by foot. Visit in winter to see diving ducks that flock to the ponds.

    Location: 52 Barton Ln, Beeston, Nottingham NG9 6DY, UK

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)115 972 1777


    Visit Nottingham’s free museums

    Learn about history, arts and nature without spending a penny

    • Budget
    • Families
    • History
    • Photo

    Nottingham is brimming with free museums where you can learn about the history, culture and arts of the city. At the Museum of Nottingham Life, you can learn about the social history of Nottingham over the past 300 years. If travelling with the kids, you might want to check out Green’s Windmill and Science Centre, which has an interactive discovery centre. Other popular museums include the National Justice Museum, Nottingham Industrial Museum and Nottingham Castle.

    Located inside the 16th-century Wollaton Hall, the Nottingham Natural History Museum is an ideal place to learn about the city’s heritage. And, with over 750,000 objects in its collection, a visit to the Natural History Museum promises a full day of education and entertainment. Take the kids to watch deer in the surrounding parklands during your visit.


    Discover Nottingham’s historic religious monuments

    Tour Nottingham Cathedral and the 12th-century Southwell Minster

    • Budget
    • Couples
    • History
    • Photo

    You don’t need to be religious to appreciate the architectural beauty of Nottingham’s historic churches and religious monuments. The 19th-century Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Clumber Park is a Grade I-listed building, constructed in the Gothic style. Nearby, you’ll find St. Peter’s Church, another building of outstanding architectural or historical interest.

    One of the largest religious monuments in the city is Nottingham Cathedral, notable for its lancet architectural features. Head there on Wednesday or Sunday evening at about 6 pm to listen to the choir. If you’re more interested in a historic church with a little more grandeur, visit Southwell Minster, which was built during the 12th century in Romanesque and Gothic styles. A bus leaves Nottingham for Southwell every hour and takes around 40 minutes to arrive.


    Eat at Cod’s Scallop

    Dine like a local at Nottingham’s best fish and chip shop

    If you want to eat like a local in Nottingham and save a few pounds in the process, try the fish and chips at the Cod’s Scallop. This chippy has won many awards, including the National Fish & Chip Awards, for its high-quality food, innovative menu, sustainability, and ability to cater to special dietary requirements.

    The Cod’s Scallop serves over 30 different types of fresh seafood, including salmon, dressed Cromer crab, oysters, lobsters and cockles. However, the traditional cod and chips cooked in beef dripping are well worth a try. If you’re a vegetarian, head to Cod’s Scallop on the first Monday of the month when free veggie specials come with your serving of chips.

    Location: 170 Bramcote Ln, Nottingham NG8 2QP, UK

    Open: Wednesday–Saturday from noon to 8.30 pm (closed from Sundays to Tuesdays)

    Phone: +44 (0)115 985 4107


    photo by ClemRutter (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    City of Caves

    Meander a network of over 500 inner-city caves

    • Budget
    • History

    The City of Caves is a network of over 500 sandstone caves that date back over 1,000 years. Over the centuries, these inner-city caves have been used as tanneries, public house cellars and air-raid shelters. They were originally homes for the poor until they were banned from being rented out in 1845. Today, you can explore most of the manmade caves for less than £10.

    You’ll find the City of Caves at the bottom of the stairs by Nottingham Contemporary, which is a short walk from the Lace Market Tram Stop and Nottingham Railway Station. To make your budget stretch further, consider buying a family ticket for around £25. If travelling solo, you can purchase a discounted ticket for both the City of Caves and the National Justice Museum for around £16.

    Location: Garner's Hill, Nottingham NG1 1HF, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)115 988 1955


    Green’s Windmill viewpoint

    Enjoy sprawling cityscape views

    • Budget
    • Families
    • Photo

    Green’s Windmill sits on top of a hill in Sneinton, offering sweeping views of the city of Nottingham. The windmill was originally constructed in 1807 by George Green, one of the city’s foremost mathematicians of his era. Today, the windmill’s giant sails remain operational. And, with plenty of exhibitions, experiments and interactive displays inside, it’s an excellent place to take the kids for a day out.

    Admission to the Museum and Science Centre is free. If you want to stretch your budget as far as possible, consider packing a picnic to the windmill. You can reach Green’s Windmill on foot in under 15 minutes from the city. Alternatively, bus number 43 stops at Windmill Lane, which is a stone’s throw away from this popular tourist attraction.

    Location: Windmill Ln, Sneinton, Nottingham NG2 4QB, UK

    Open: Wednesday–Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)

    Phone: +44 (0)115 915 6878


    photo by Clem Rutter (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Explore Nottingham’s unique architecture on foot

    The compact city centre has lots of stunning Victorian buildings

    • Budget
    • Adventure

    Nottingham is home to structures in a variety of architectural styles. Some of the city’s most picturesque buildings were designed by Watson Fothergill, whose influences include Gothic Revival and Old English vernacular. During the Victorian era, Fothergill designed over 100 buildings in Nottingham, many of which you can visit on foot without spending a penny.

    The easiest way to see Fothergill’s creations is to download the GPSmyCity app, which takes you on a 2-hour, self-guided walking tour past 9 of Nottingham’s architectural gems. During the tour, you’ll see Adams Building (the largest structure in the Lace Market District), Nottingham Council House (the centrepiece of the city skyline), and The Express Offices, which combine medieval and Old English styles.


    Shop at Nottingham Car Boot Sale

    The city hosts a variety of cheap markets and fairs every week

    • Shoppers
    • Budget

    If you want to find the best bargains in Nottingham, you might want to avoid the large shopping centres and instead visit the city’s markets and car boot sales. Markets run every day in and around the city. For beauty products, computers, fabrics, flowers and clothing, head to the Victoria Centre Markets, which open daily except on Sundays.

    Sneinton Market, held every Monday and Saturday, is an ideal place to buy cheap baby clothes and fashion accessories. There’s also a vegan food market on the first Saturday of every month. If you fancy browsing a bit of everything, head to Colwick Car Boot Sale on Sunday, where you can browse over 200 stalls selling everything from bric-a-brac to hidden treasures.

    Location: Racecourse Rd, Nottingham NG2 4BE, UK

    Open: Sunday from 8.30 am to 1 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)115 876 1960


    Use a Robin Hood travel card

    Get around using Nottingham’s extensive public transport system

    • Budget

    Nottingham has an extensive public transport network that includes trams, buses and trains. Besides traversing the city on foot, the Robin Hood Network is the most affordable way to get around the city. A tram ticket for a single journey can cost as little as £2. But if you want to travel beyond the city limits for a full day, you’re better off buying a day pass for less than £5.

    The Robin Hood public transport network covers the entire city and extends to neighbouring destinations including Derby, Ripley, Leicester and Grantham. If you’re staying in Nottingham for a couple of weeks, consider grabbing a pay-as-you-go card, which allows you to top up your balance either online or by using streetside machines dotted around Nottinghamshire.


    Take advantage of happy hours at pubs and bars

    Grab a pint at discounted prices

    • Nightlife
    • Budget

    In Nottingham, you can enjoy a tipple in a sophisticated venue for a bargain if you choose your drinking time wisely. Better still, many happy hours last the entire evening or half the day. At Be At One, a trendy chain of bars serving sour, sweet and spicy cocktails, you can enjoy 2-for-1 drinks every day until 7 or 8 pm. If you prefer a traditional pint in a modern, energetic environment, check out daily happy hour offers at Rescue Rooms.

    At The Southbank Bar, you can get a 30% discount on your bill, including food and drinks, from 4 pm until 7 pm on weekdays. It’s an excellent place to dine and drink on a budget while watching sports, listening to live music and playing a game of pool.

    Joshua Saunders | Contributing Writer

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